♫ Tears In Heaven ♫

I am not a fan of Eric Clapton, but this one … this one is a song that has depth, has meaning, has staying power, that has that “bring you to tears” capability.

In August 1990, Clapton’s manager, two of his roadies and his friend and fellow musician Stevie Ray Vaughan were killed in a helicopter accident.  Seven months later, in March 1991, Clapton’s 4-year-old son Conor died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment belonging to Conor’s mother, Italian television personality Lory del Santo.

In a 2005 interview with Mojo, Clapton said Conor’s death “threw me into … a wobble,” and in the immediate aftermath of the accident, he coped by throwing himself into his work — most notably by contributing a trio of new songs to the soundtrack of the 1991 movie Rush, including Tears in Heaven, the Grammy-winning hit ballad inspired by the immense grief of his loss.

Clapton wrote this with Will Jennings, who has written many famous songs from movies, including Up Where We Belong from An Officer And A Gentleman and My Heart Will Go On from Titanic. Jennings wrote the lyrics to many of Steve Winwood’s hits and has also written with B.B. King, Roy Orbison, The Crusaders, Peter Wolf and many others.  According to Jennings …

“Eric and I were engaged to write a song for a movie called Rush. We wrote a song called ‘Help Me Up’ for the end of the movie… then Eric saw another place in the movie for a song and he said to me, ‘I want to write a song about my boy.’ Eric had the first verse of the song written, which, to me, is all the song, but he wanted me to write the rest of the verse lines and the release (‘Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees…’), even though I told him that it was so personal he should write everything himself. He told me that he had admired the work I did with Steve Winwood and finally there was nothing else but do to as he requested, despite the sensitivity of the subject. This is a song so personal and so sad that it is unique in my experience of writing songs.”

Clapton wasn’t sure he wanted this song to be released at all, but the director of Rush, Lili Zanuck, convinced him to use it in the film. “Her argument was that it might in some way help somebody, and that got my vote,” Clapton said.

Tears In Heaven
Eric Clapton

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Songwriters: Eric Patrick Clapton / Will Jennings
Tears In Heaven lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave, BMG Rights Management

♫ Up Where We Belong ♫

Earlier this week I wrote a post, the title of which was Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings, a line from this song.  Well, as these things happen, the song got stuck in my head … I seem to have given myself an earworm, and the only way I know of to exorcise it is to share it with my friends!  I’ve always loved this song, loved the voices of Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker, but I did not realize it was the theme song to the movie An Officer And A Gentleman.  But it almost wasn’t …

Once the song was recorded, the film’s director, Taylor Hackford said that “the final version was absolute magic—or at least Joel (Joel Sill, who was head of music at Paramount at the time) and I thought so.”  But, when they presented the song to the executives at Paramount, Michael Eisner and Don Simpson, they hated the record and said it would never be a hit.  But, as time was running out and the budget had long since run out, the two ultimately agreed and the song was released as a single on 22 July 1982, to promote the movie, which was released six days later.

Will Jennings wrote the lyrics. He’s responsible for the words to many famous songs, including My Heart Will Go On, Looks Like We Made It, and many of Steve Winwood’s hits.  Of the lyrics he says …

“I am a working class person and these people in the film trying to make it, they are my people. The mountain imagery is about striving for the top – people often don’t hear the lyric right – it is ‘Where eagles cry, on a mountain high’ instead of ‘Where eagles fly, on a mountain high’ – if you have ever heard an eagle cry, the power and beauty of it and all the wild freedom of it, you will get the distinction. As far as “All I know is the way I feel…’ well, if you have nothing else to tell you what to do in your life, you have to go with the way you feel… if you are lost, you have only your instinct and passion to guide you.”

Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Saint-Marie wrote the score for the movie and the music for this song; they got married the following year.

Joe Cocker’s life and career could cover an entire post … or a few.  Sadly, he died in 2014 of lung cancer.

Up Where We Belong
Joe Cocker/Jennifer Warnes

Who knows what tomorrow brings
In a world few hearts survive
All I know is the way I feel
When it’s real, I keep it alive

The road is long
There are mountains in our way
But we climb a step every day

Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry
On a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong
Far from the world below
Up where the clear winds blow

Some hang on to used to be
Live their lives looking behind
All we have is here and now
All our lives, out there to find

The road is long
There are mountains in our way
But we climb a step every day

Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry
On a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong
Far from the world we know
Where the clear winds blow

Time goes by
No time to cry
Life’s you and I
Alive today

Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry
On a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong
Far from the world we know
Where the clear winds blow

Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry
On a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong

Songwriters: Jack Nitzsche / Buffy Saint-Marie / Will Jennings
Up Where We Belong lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC